Peter’s Gardening Tips for February 2016

The weather continues to oscillate between cold and warm, Storms – Gertrude just gone and Henry arriving.

This month is always unpredictable, my father always disliked February because of the weather! At least the days are getting longer….. It’s just so wet everywhere, unless your garden is on a sandy soil.

Armchair gardening is definitely a good idea, browsing through catalogues or going on-line. Venture to your garden centre for inspiration too – seed potatoes, shallots, onions, garlic, rhubarb, fruit trees and soft fruit.

Dream of warmer drier days pottering around sowing seeds, planting out young plants……

Jobs to do:-

  • Clean gutters and check downpipes aren’t blocked with leaves and moss, look for leaks in sheds and garages etc.
  • Sort through any stored fruit, onions, garlic etc.
  • Clean tools, oil and wipe down. Treat wooden handles for woodworm, have a sort out in the shed or greenhouse. Replace broken pots, seed trays, root trainers, canes, gloves, tools.
  • Empty outside saucers under pots, wash and put away.
  • Crack on with pruning Wisterias, cut out all weedy growth back to 3-5 black buds, creating spurs.

I’m itching to get out in my own garden, I did manage to spike the ground on the lawns worst effected places, to improve drainage and do a little rootling of the soil surface in the herbaceous/shrub border.

Fruit Tree Special Report-

Standard Apple trees

Standard Apple trees

I went to see a specialist grower of fruit trees, Southern Fruit Trees.

Mike Foard runs the family nursery where over 125 varieties of apples are grown plus:

  • 11 varieties of pears
  • 20 varieties of plums, damsons, gages and Mirabelle
  • 15 varieties of peaches, nectarines and apricots
  • 14 varieties of cherries
  • 11 varieties of red/white blackcurrants

The range is fantastic and for the real fruit connoisseur you can get standard fruit trees if you want to create an orchard, or simply want your fruit tree up and out of the way of a flower border or in a lawn where you want to mow underneath it.

Soft fruit bushes

Soft fruit bushes

Bush, Cordon, Fan and Espalier are also available depending on how much space you have available. Cordon apples can be planted as close as 2 feet apart against a fence or as a division across a garden with posts and straining wires.

All trees are open ground grown so are bare root making them extremely good value.

One of the best unique selling points of Southern Fruit Trees is that Mike will graft any apple you might want to duplicate.

  • An apple in a relatives garden, mum/dad/etc or friends garden
  • A variety that tastes fantastic
  • An unknown variety
  • Your moving house and can’t take the tree with you
  • The tree is dying and you want the same variety etc.
  • An apple tree that has sentimental attachment to you.
Espalier,bush and cordon apple trees

Espalier,bush and cordon apple trees

This is such a truly special touch that means old varieties can be multiplied up, rare or even new varieties discovered.

What does Mike need to make this happen?

  • Healthy straight pieces of apple stem which are pencil length and thickness and last years growth, no gnarled woody old bent stems! These need to be cut and placed in a sealed, plastic bag and posted to Mike.

You will need to collect your ‘Bud Wood’ pencil stems soon as grafting is done whilst the bulbs are dormant, before the stems break into leaf – before March!

Old Grain Dryer Corner
GU33 6BP


Telephone: 01420 488822

Email: [email protected]

All trees are available to mail order, please phone to discuss your requirements using the details above.

As you can see I’m passionate about ‘Proper Specialist Nurseries’. If you want me to champion somebody let me know before they die out!

Kind Regards and Happy Gardening,

P.S  I am happy to answer any of your gardening questions too, so feel free to leave them below and I will do my best to reply! 

Visit my website too ←

P.S. Old gardener’s don’t die. They just throw in the trowel!! – Audrey Austin

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Peter has spent his life gardening, working in garden centres and advising in all aspects of gardening, wildlife, and bio-diversity in horticulture.He managed Clandon Park Garden Centre in Surrey at the age of 23 and was a gardening radio presenter with the BBC. This continued for 15 years, running live broadcasts from Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower shows, South of England & Surrey County shows.Now self-employed, Peter works on a wide variety of gardens from private to large estates and also concentrating on consultancy and advisory work to fellow gardeners. He works with the RHS Gardening Advice team at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Wisley Flower shows and is an RHS External Gardening Advisor

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